Casino Canberra Deal Dead

Aquis Entertainment said the proposed transaction for $32m had been terminated just weeks after iProsperity asked for an extension as it was yet to receive approvals.


Key Points:

  • Deal to sell the Casino Canberra has been terminated

  • "The information required has not, to date, been provided by Blue Whale"

  • "Decision not to proceed by the parties were commercial decisions, independent of government and the commission"


Gaming mogul Tony Fung’s deal to sell the Casino Canberra has been terminated, refusing to give the buyer, iProsperity Group, more time to win regulatory approval to buy the property.


Aquis Entertainment said the proposed transaction for $32m had been terminated just weeks after iProsperity asked for an extension as it was yet to receive approvals.


Mr Fung had picked up Casino Canberra from Casinos Austria for just $6.5m in 2014. The ACT government in 2018 rejected a proposal by Aquis to transform the casino and the surrounding precinct.


He is still active and his private Aquis Australia is developing a new $440m hotel on the beachfront in Surfers Paradise.


iProsperity is one of the largest hotel owners in Australia and last year bought the AccorInvest Portfolio of 17 hotels for c. $200m.


iProsperity’s Blue Whale Entertainment entity was to acquire the listed Aquis in a structured deal using cash, loan repayments and a three-year share buying agreement.


"Aquis and ACH have issued a notice of termination to Blue Whale,” Aquis told the ASX. The termination will become effective on February 6.


Aquis said it had also sought payment of the $280,000 break fee from Blue Whale but the future of the operation is unclear.


“Following the termination of the sale transaction, the board will update the group’s strategies to ensure continual improvement and growth in the business, including consideration of any new business opportunities which may arise,” the company said in a statement.


The deal was subject to Blue Whale engaging in a probity assessment and gaining the necessary regulatory approval from the ACT Gaming and Racing Commission by the December deadline.


“The commission worked proactively with Blue Whale and Casino Canberra to facilitate this assessment, but the information required has not, to date, been provided by Blue Whale. As a result, the probity assessment was not completed,” an ACT government spokeswoman said.


The government said the commission was informed by Casino Canberra on Tuesday the proposed transaction was not to proceed.


“The proposed agreement and the subsequent decision not to proceed by the parties were commercial decisions, independent of government and the commission,” the spokeswoman said.


Aquis chief executive Allison Gallaughe said that the application was not rejected. “No decision was issued, nor indicative decision, as the review was not completed,” she said.


Instead, she said that no agreement was reached between the parties to an extension of time to allow completion of probity and “accordingly Aquis issued a notice of termination to Blue Whale”.


“The business is viable, cash positive and the board looks forward to seeing further improvements in the future,” Aquis said.

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